Monday, March 9, 2009

ATWT Legend Eileen Fulton: A 'Footstool'?

Eileen Fulton, who debuted on AS THE WORLD TURNS as soap's first real bitch, Lisa, back in 1960, is one of the many veteran actors on the show who has disappeared in recent years. And out of all those actors (the show has seven actors with 25 or more years on the show), Fulton and Helen Wagner have been the most absent.

In a recent posting on her website Ms. Fulton wrote:

"Many of you are writing to say you simply haven't seen me on the show much. After a busy summer, I can't say I am not disappointed. If I could have one Christmas wish, besides world peace, of course - it would be for a story line! I really am beginning to feel that Lisa (and moi!) have become almost like a footstool, that just sits there until someone trips over it every once and awhile!

I love this show just like most of you. And like most of you who write to me, I wish for the kinder, gentler Hughes years. Remember? When the characters had problems everyone could relate to. When events and circumstances mimicked real life, in real settings. Didn't you feel in past years that the characters were your friends? That you could rely on their steadfastness or kookiness or evilness. You had a reason to be happy when they had a reason to be happy, sad when they were, fearful when you knew they were straying, mad when they were treating each other badly. I don't know, I throw my hands up in the air and all I can implore you to do is write to P&G and CBS-TV."

This is very sad. And I have met fans in the past year who don't even know who Lisa is or how she is related to anyone.

Oakdale has completely lost its sense of community, and without it, what is the point of this show?

Throughout the history of soaps, older actors have moved to the backburner and younger actors became the focus. This is not new and will likely always continue. But the biggest difference with ATWT in the last several years is that the veteran actors did not become important supporting players, they became non-existent. Kim only exists to support Katie a few times a year. Nancy too. Bob occasionally chimes in on a case at the hospital. Susan shows up whenver Ali or Emily screws up. Lisa hasn't had anything important to do this decade.

Lucinda is the only "vet" who has had a story of her own. She was given a gay husband last fall. Laurence Lau, who played Brian, left the show on Jan. 14. Lucinda's portrayer, Elizabeth Hubbard, hasn't been seen since. Lau returns for a guest appearance this week, and Hubbard is returning as well.

But what about Fulton? Will Lisa ever have a story again or even be involved in one? Multi-generational storytelling is what made AS THE WORLD TURNS great, and without it, the show is lost. It's like a car stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels, and going nowhere. Casey could learn so much from Nancy and Lisa and Bob. What other soap character has such legendary grandparents still around?

How about a new older gentleman (who isn't gay) shows up in town and woos Lisa, Lucinda, Susan, Emma and Barbara? They could all be given something to do in one fell swoop. If CBS wants to hire another ABC actor for one of its soaps, stealing David Canary from ALL MY CHILDREN would be an excellent way to solve this problem. In the meantime, let's hope the show's producers remember that AS THE WORLD TURNS is a show about family and community and relatable characters people have grown up watching. Getting back to the core of the show is the only way its going to survive.

1 comment:

  1. One guy coming to town and "wooing" all of those characters?????? Doesn't sound like a plan to me....